Tuesday 28 April 2015

A Green Day.

After seeing my first Green Hairstreaks of the year yesterday I thought I would fit in a bit of time watching them today in the sunshine. Little did I know how cold the wind would be though and I only saw them in a sheltered patch. A lot of battles went on between the two seen and already they are both showing a little bit of wing damage. It was really good though watching one of my favourite butterflies back on the wing.

Green Hairstreak.

A little further along the valley some Brown-tail Moth larvae seen in their larval nest. My first Dragonfly of the year was also seen in the shape of a Hairy Dragonfly.

Brown-tail Moth Larvae.

Monday 27 April 2015

More Skipper Action.

With the weather being a bit up and down over the weekend I had a quick look for more Pupa on Saturday. It was only a quick look and no more were found. A Wall larva seen as well as 2 very small Marbled White larva. These were only just over 1 cm. long.

Marbled White larva.

The sun decided to shine a bit more this morning and I was greeted by 2 male Wall Brown fighting amongst themselves. A few Grizzled and Dingy Skippers were also showing and then a Small Heath flew past. This was in the same spot as my first Small Heath from last year. A little later I had my 2nd new butterfly for the year today with 2 Green Hairstreak fighting. At this moment the sun went in and stayed in for much of the remainder of the day. The Hairstreaks were not seen again.
Later in the day I went to look for roosting Skippers and all I found was a Dingy Skipper. The sun did actually appear for a short time and the Skipper briefly opened its wings before deciding to go back to sleep.

Small Heath.

Dingy Skipper.

Friday 24 April 2015

Orchid Day.

A walk over the Sussex Downland today in really cold, overcast conditions produced some wonderful Early Spider Orchids. Possibly due to the recent dry conditions numbers are quite low although there were several only just starting to show.

Early Spider Orchids.

It was then the Green-winged Orchids which were also only just starting to look good, although these too were in quite small numbers. At least the sun had come out by this point resulting in much warmer conditions!!

Green-winged Orchid.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Pupa Found!!

This morning was spent trying and hoping for my first Green Hairstreak of the year. Unfortunately this was not to be. The numbers of Small Copper however on this part of the patch is very encouraging. For the 2nd time in a week I was lucky to find a bit of a poser!!

Small Copper.

This afternoon I went to try to get the Grizzled Skippers again and was met by a Wall Brown flying. I then saw one of the Wall Brown larva I've been monitoring and it is now nearly fully grown. Looking for the Skippers I had to walk past the site where I found a Wall Pupa last year, I was tempted to have a quick look and I nearly fell over in amazement as there was another pupa there. As regular readers of this blog will know the pupa is far the hardest to find of the stages and last year I spent upwards of 12 hours hunting for one. This year I probably haven't spent one hour yet so it was a great relief!! I just hope that this one makes it through to an adult butterfly.

Wall Brown Pupa.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

In The Sun.

Today I found a couple more Orange Ladybirds. Last time I photographed one it was a really dull day, so it was different to be able to get one in the sunshine. The shot from underneath was interesting as it shows that the insect is orange all over and under!!
Another Large Red Damselfly also posed very nicely. Lots of Speckled Wood performed today along with several Brimstone and Peacock.

Orange Ladybird.

Large Red Damselfly.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Skipper Magic.

It was one of those days when nearly everything seemed to go right. A Large Red Damselfly was seen just after leaving the car. I then started to look for Wall Brown pupa for a while. This is the one thing that went wrong as I didn't find any pupa, however, I did find a cluster of Emperor Moth eggs. I then found a newly emerged Blue-tailed Damselfly, my first of the year.

Large Red Damselfly.

Emperor Moth egg cluster.

Blue-tailed Damselfly.

A short while later I found my first Grizzled Skipper of the year although it took a while to get a clear view of it. Following this a further 3 were seen. One even posed nicely for me.

Grizzled Skipper.

Later in the day I went back to see if I could find them roosting. On heading to the area a butterfly took off near me and I assumed it was a Small Tortoiseshell. However, I realised the flight pattern was wrong and as I watched it I saw that it was my first Wall Brown of the year. 
I struggled to see any Grizzled Skippers but as I was looking around a Dingy Skipper flew past, another first for the year. I thought I had lost it until I found it roosting on an old rose dead-head. Although it was in the roosting position it then opened its wings fully when the sun came back from behind a bush.

Dingy Skipper as found roosting.

Roosting Dingy Skipper.

Dingy Skipper.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Small Copper Surprise.

Another really sunny day today, but the stiff Easterly wind really made it hard going for butterflies. A walk this morning was not expected to throw up any new species as the wind was blowing straight onto the Downland where I was concentrating on. I thought there may be a small chance of a Green Hairstreak or Grizzled Skipper in the odd sheltered bit, but no luck. I did get another really nice Pyrausta despicata micro moth which was just hanging on in the wind. I then came across a really beautiful Small Copper which added a nice bit of colour to the day and became my 12th species of the year. Unfortunately the wind was blowing pretty hard where the butterfly was but eventually it landed in a slightly quieter place where I managed a few shots. 

Small Copper.

Small Copper.

Pyrausta Despicata.

Thursday 16 April 2015

A Cooler Day.

With a repeat visit to the Arlington area today it was another really good day with 2 more species added to my year list of butterflies with confirmed sightings of both Green-veined and Large Whites. Added to that with it being a cooler day I managed to obtain a few photos, as yesterday everything was very active in the heat. With both a Speckled Wood nectaring on Lesser Celandine and a newly emerged Large Red Damselfly posing nicely on Cleavers as well as a Kidney-spot Ladybird that Pete found and my first Early-purple Orchid of the year it was a great day. 

Greater Stitchwort.

Male Speckled Wood.

Large Red Damselfly.

Kidney-spot Ladybird.

Early-purple Orchid.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

The Merlin and a Clouded Yellow.

A really good couple of days with yesterdays highlight being a Merlin chasing a probable Skylark at the back of Seaford. I was watching the drama for well over a minute and it was clear that both birds were tiring, but the Merlin kept gaining height and then swooping down on the small bird. Just when it was becoming evident that one bird would soon give up a female Peregrine, that must have been watching from some distance away, suddenly appeared obviously thinking it would get an easy meal. The confusion that this arrival caused actually helped the lark as it somehow managed to slip away. A fabulous sight watching the drama unfold. With the great weather I was really hoping to get some more butterfly species for the year, but still the wait goes on. That is until today!!
This time last year as of yesterdays date I had seen 15 species with only 6 this year. Fortunately today I managed to get the list up to 9 with my first Orange-tip and Speckled Wood with several seen near Arlington Reservoir. The big surprise though was the totally unexpected sight of a superb male Clouded Yellow that was battling with the Small Tortoiseshells. Too flighty to get a photo but an excellent addition to the years butterfly list. This butterfly was almost certainly an arrival from the continent. A Comma egg laying was good to see as well as a Red Admiral and many Peacock. My first Large Red Damselflies of the year were seen as well with at least 5 seen.

Comma ova (egg).

Last week I managed to get an image of a Glow-worm larva at the back of Seaford.

Glow-worm larva.

Monday 13 April 2015

Pied Flycatcher.

A walk at the back of Woodingdean today produced a smart female Pied Flycatcher along the valley I believe is Newmarket Bottom. Along with many Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers it was an odd walk as most of the time was spent in a cloud!! The fog cleared a bit from time to time and the temperature went from cold to very cold and then warmish and back to cold. In the warmer bits a few Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock seen along with a Stoat running along a fence-line.
With nothing to photograph with the macro lens it was a bit of playing around with a 7-Spot Ladybird and a Daisy. Yes, it was a bit sad!! A good walk though with several good bits with the Flycatcher being very much the highlight!!

7-Spot Ladybird.

The light was really horrid when these were taken!!

Saturday 11 April 2015

Fully Grown larva.

I wasn't really intending to take any more images of the Wall Brown larvae as I do have a fair selection and there are perhaps too many in the computer. However, yesterday whilst looking for early season moths I came across a fully grown larva sitting perfectly on an old grass stem. It was possibly resting before feeding up for the day as it was only about 8am. After taking a few images I left it be hoping that in a few days I might be able to relocate it as a pupa? 
Even this early in the day a few Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock were moving about as was a single Brimstone. 

Wall Brown larva.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Out and About.

The last few days I've been out and about a bit looking for various new butterflies for the year, with little success. Apart from a few Small White all I've been seeing is lots of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Brimstone. I keep expecting Speckled Wood, especially in the mini heatwave we seem to be having. I have seen many good things however with lots more Adders, Swallow, Blackcap. Also today I had a fabulous view of a Stoat in the morning followed by a Weasel this afternoon!! Both animals I rarely see making it a mustelidae day.
This afternoon I also heard a Cuckoo at the back of Seaford. A Common Heath and Pyrausta despicata were new moths for the year. Both day flying moths.

A few pictures from the last few days.




Pyrausta despicata.


Monday 6 April 2015

Moth Trapping.

With a warmer day yesterday and light winds I decided last night to put out the moth trap for the first time this year. At 6.45 this morning I was beginning to question my wisdom whilst looking into the moth trap and listening to a neighbour scraping the ice off their windscreen!!
Well, it wasn't a massive success with just 3 Early Grey and a Common Quaker but at least the dust has fallen off the trap. The Early Greys were also very fresh looking.

Early Grey.

A little later it was off to the Downland looking for Adders. Despite a cool breeze blowing it started to look good with 5 all curled up together. Further along another 2 were seen including the female I photographed a little over a week ago. Then back near the group of 5 a very large female appeared, possibly the biggest Adder I've seen over the years. It did look as though it was due a moult soon as it looked quite dull in colour although the head area was brighter so it may have started the moult.

A big fat female Adder.

Just before moving into the Gorse.

Two Swallows were also seen hawking for insects just above the ground.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Orange Ladybird.

A truly horrible kind of day in the South-east yesterday and Pete and I wandered frozen around Rowland Wood just hoping for anything of interest.
This came in the shape of an Orange Ladybird. A cute species that had what looked like clear plastic covering its head. It was also good to see the Wood Anemone in flower.

Orange Ladybird on dead bracken.

Orange Ladybird on Primrose bud.